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United States: murderer found 40 years later thanks to soda can

A 62-year-old man was arrested in February in Nebraska on suspicion of killing a young woman forty years earlier. A hunt that owes everything to technological progress around DNA.

It took almost 40 years to resolve this closed case, a “cold case” as they say in the United States: a man suspected of having killed a woman named Sylvia Quayle, in 1981 in Cherry Hills Village (Colorado), was arrested in February, reports  CBS . His DNA, found on a soda can , matches that found at the time near the victim.

On August 4, 1981, Sylvia Quayle, a 35-year-old woman , was found dead at her home, naked, strangled, stabbed and shot by a gun. Samples could have been recovered from the crime scene, but it was not until 1995 that a piece of carpet could be analyzed and the year 2000 so that the police could identify the DNA  as that of a male individual. 

Trapped by his trash

Last January, investigators relaunched the case using two open access genetic databases , Family Tree DNA and GEDMatch. This enabled them to identify around 3,300 people likely to match the profile. A few more weeks of investigation were necessary to narrow the bundle of clues and target a prime suspect: David Dwayne Anderson, a 62-year-old man now living in Nebraska.

It only remained to collect the DNA of this man, which could be done by recovering a can – of vanilla soda, CBS says – in his trash. The two sequences matched perfectly, so David Dwayne Anderson was arrested on February 10 . He is expected to be transferred to Colorado to face a charge of intentional homicide.

Jimmy Curd

Jimmy Curd is a features editor at iPress USA, where He oversees The Broadsheet newsletter and edits the publication’s long-form storytelling, as well as its coverage of gender and business.

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